ABSTRACT. This study of the Yucatan coastal communities shows that the Caribbean Mayas took advantage of marine resources using various fishing techniques, building canoes capable of navigating long distances, and offering celebrations to the gods of the sea to catch more fish and increase maritime trade.
RÉSUMÉ. Centrée sur les communautés littorales du Yucatan, l'étude montre que les Mayas des Caraïbes se sont approprié les ressources de la mer, en utilisant des techniques variées de pêche, en construisant des canoës leur permettant une navigation à longue distance, et en offrant aux dieux de la mer des célébrations destinées à favoriser la pêche et le commerce maritime.
From ancient times, the people who settled on the Caribbean coast have been connected to the sea, a generalization that is corroborated by the large quantities of shell mounds and fishing villages, traders, and seafarers that have been found along its seaboards and islands. It comes as no surprise that the first evidence of mollusk and sea fauna exploitation dates to the first millennium before Christ on islands in the Caribbean and on the coasts of the Yucatán Peninsula. The tools of these groups were made primarily of mollusk shells to produce axes, hammers, picks, gouges, awls, and scrapers. With time, several of these groups adopted the cultivation of maize and/or tubers, such as manioc, which made it possible to establish permanent settlements. At the same time, social interaction between different communities was promoted with the development of canoe navigation. This means of transport permitted the colonization of most of the islands by the Arawak and the Taino, as well as the circulation of products between the Antilles and groups settled in Florida, Central America, Venezuela, and the Guianas.
Of all of the groups that interacted with the Caribbean, the pre-Hispanic Mayas were the people who achieved the greatest social complexity, which was expressed in their settlement patterns, architecture, social stratification, worldview, calendar, and their development of one of most advanced writing systems in Pre-Columbian America.